Posts Tagged ‘Worcester Literary Festival’


What is ANNOYING me this week?

Having to learn HTML because my website won’t do line breaks.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

The Rock Houses at Kinver.


Paul Weller – Illumination.


My thoughts this week are turning toward doing a major new project, this will be a personal project involving film, sound and poetry with may be other artistic mediums such as dance, if it develops into something that allows for the incorporation of these themes without diluting or compromising the piece.

This is something that I have been thinking about for sometime and at this stage the ideas are only as stated above, something with film, sound and poetry. There is no story or theme, no idea for sound other than experiments to create audio vistas that are not music, although they make have some musicality about them. No ideas for the film, other than the images should challenge the viewer to make connections; with the words and sound and their personal experience.

I want to almost take a space and create a spirit for it that lives in the space for the period of the performance.

I see the process as something organic that grows through the process of developing it; this will be a ritual piece, where the development of it is perhaps as important as the showing or performing of it.

But then, I do tend work this way on my own pieces, such that the writing or filming is a process of bringing forth new learning, new understanding and most of all the pleasure of the subject. Immersing myself in the culture, heritage, ideas, philosophies, people and place.

The process usually starts with Google, searching out obscure references, looking for the unusual little know fact, then forming an idea which then goes into the thinking and walking phase where quite often the original fact is lost in the depths of the journey to the final piece.

I visit places and talk to people, find the spirits adding in their stimulus to the piece, each thread on its own bobbin, like wool or cotton, spun from different sheep or different plants coming together in a single piece of cloth, then cut and sewn into a fine fitting garment, the source of the threads become distant and remote, lost.

It is the experience of the process of the development that gives a full understanding of the finished piece, this is often lost to the audience who views it as a completed composition – sometimes such that they do not understand it, cannot see how one motif overlaps with another, how one set of words arrive at the point that they do and why it is important that they come in at the precise point.

With sound and film imagery we have become accustomed to fast moving beats and scenes, there is a formula used in the industries, which churn out thousands of hours of popular culture nearly every day. The idea of 2 minutes 45 seconds for a sound came out of the need for records to be played on the radio and this was deemed as getting as much coverage and radio play for a variety of artists. But this in turn has changed our ways of thinking, changed our expectations.

I want to break away from this, with sustained images and sounds, I want to stand on the mountain top and listen and stare and I want it to last longer than 2 minutes 45 seconds. You don’t go through the dangers and physical exertion in climbing the mountain to stand there for 2 minutes 45 seconds.

For me it is always the journey and the experience rather than the arrival, I want to change this for me, such that the arrival is something that sits on top of a mountain and has a knowing, understood, recognised presence.

I hope to share some of the journey with you through this blog. Let’s see where it goes.

Congratulations to Sarah James, one of the Poetry Trail Poets whose first collection “Into the Yell” has won third prize in the Rubery International Book Awards for 2011. This is a fantastic reward following the hard work in developing and just recognition for a wonderful poet.

There is no resting up as Sarah is now joint editor of BE Magazine, which is part of the Worcester Literary Festival. It will be an on-line publication initially but is planned to be produced as a hardcopy in the future. The magazine is open for submissions and can be found at http://www.bemagazine.co.uk – check out the submission guidelines for details.

Whilst I am discussing Worcester Literary Festival, congratulations also to Lisa Ventua on what was an excellent festival in Worcester, with the right mix of established writers and grass root aspirations – an inspirational approach – I will watching out for new work being developed as a result of this mix of experience and ambition.

My LOST POET this week is Anna Letitia Barbauld (1743-1825)

Barbauld was born Anne Letitia Aikin in the village of Kibworth Harcourt, Leicestershire, her father was the Head teacher at the dissenting academy and the Minister at the nearby Presbyterian church. In her childhood she was surrounded by the boys who attended the school, whose boisterous ways she was to adopt much to her mother’s disapproval. She also had a great thirst for learning, again her mother thought this um-becoming of a young woman, who she feared would find it difficult to find a husband as someone with learning who could articulate an opinion. This was a comfortable upbringing which saw the family move to run the academy in Warrington, where she was to meet her husband a descendant of French Huguenot’s, Rochemont Barbauld.

It was shortly before her marriage, that she published her first collection of poem, entitled simply as “Poems” (1773), this was to receive much critical acclaim and went into four printings and built her a considerable reputation as one of the best literary voices of her time from this single first collection.

Her poems covered many themes and were to provide great inspiration to later Romantic poets such as Coleridge and Wordsworth.

It has been suggested that women poets in the Romantic period, had a distinct literary voice and further that Barbauld as a dissenter had a unique voice among her contemporaries and that she therefore from her outsider position had a duty to write social commentary.

Fearing that she and her husband may never have children of their own, they adopted one of her brother’s sons, following which, she then began to write educational studies for children, inspired by the need to educate her adopted son.

She became involved in politics in the 1780’s, writing essays on themes relating to repeal laws on the rights of Dissenters and on the abolition of the laws relating the Slave Trade in support of William Wilberforce, whose bill to abolish the slave trade had just been rejected by Parliament. She was concerned about the Nation taking responsibility for its actions and that each individual should be responsible for the acts of the Nation to which they attached their allegiance.

Her marriage faced difficulties in the early 1800’s when Rochemont’s mind became unstable which resulted, fits of anger all pointed towards Anna and in his eventual suicide in 1808, leaving Anna distraught.

In 1812 she published a poem Eighteen Hundred and Eleven, on the verge of the Napoleonic wars. Her satirical anti- war poem described Britain as a power in decline and that America as the power in the assent. The poem was vilified by the critics, which shocked her so much she refused to publish any of her further work.

She was lost to literary world and this was finalised when the Romantic poets who had once lauded her as an inspiration, abandoned and dismissed her, now that they were the leading lights in the literary world.

She remained unread until the 1980’s when feminist critics started to review her work and to put her in her rightful place of one of the best poets and writers of her generation.

The image at the top of this section is the Nine Muses of Great Britain (1779) by Richard Samuel. Anna Letitia Barbauld is depicted standing at the back by the easel gesturing with her left hand.

Below is one of the most powerful verses in the poem Nineteen Hundred and Eleven, powerful for its prediction on things to come some 100 or so years later and powerful because one can but think that it still holds as true today as it did then.

And thinks’t thou, Britain, still to sit at ease,
An island Queen amidst thy subject seas,
While the vext billows, in their distant roar,
But soothe thy slumbers, and but kiss thy shore?
To sport in wars, while danger keeps aloof,
Thy grassy turf unbruised by hostile hoof?
So sing thy flatterers; but, Britain, know,
Thou who hast shared the guilt must share the woe.
Nor distant is the hour; low murmurs spread,
And whispered fears, creating what they dread;
Ruin, as with an earthquake shock, is here,
There, the heart-witherings of unuttered fear,
And that sad death, whence most affection bleeds,
Which sickness, only of the soul, precedes.
Thy baseless wealth dissolves in air away,
Like mists that melt before the morning ray:
No more on crowded mart or busy street
Friends, meeting friends, with cheerful hurry greet;
Sad, on the ground thy princely merchants bend
Their altered looks, and evil days portend,
And fold their arms, and watch with anxious breast
The tempest blackening in the distant West.

Some links and further information.

Eighteen Hundred and Eleven at project Gutenberg.

The Anna Letitia Barbauld Website

Anna Letitia Barbauld – The Voice of Enlightenment – By William McCarthy (Amazon Page).


THE FIZZ 8 with Matt Merritt is coming up on the 19th July as Polesworth Abbey, please do try and come along and here Matt read his poems from nature.


Readings in July.

15th July – Spoken Worlds – Burton upon Trent.
19th July – The Fizz 8 – Polesworth Abbey.

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